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Scenes From Today's RBC Hillary Protest

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  • Greg Cannon
    http://blogs.tnr.com/tnr/blogs/the_stump/archive/2008/05/31/scenes-from-today-s-rbc-hillary-protest.aspx 31.05.2008 Scenes From Today s RBC Hillary Protest
    Message 1 of 1 , Jun 1, 2008
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      http://blogs.tnr.com/tnr/blogs/the_stump/archive/2008/05/31/scenes-from-today-s-rbc-hillary-protest.aspx

      31.05.2008
      Scenes From Today's RBC Hillary Protest

      Howard Dean may hope that the "healing will begin
      today," but two blocks away from the northwest
      Washington Marriott where the DNC's Rules and Bylaws
      Committee is meeting right now to try to figure out
      Florida and Michigan, the Hillary protesters are
      occupying an utterly alternate (and healing-free)
      universe: a universe in which one of the big lawn
      rally's speakers yells that the Democratic Party no
      longer is in the business of "promoting equality and
      fairness for all"; in which a Hillary supporter with
      two poodles shouts, "Howard Dean is a leftist freak!";
      in which a man exhibits a sign that reads "At least
      slaves were counted as 3/5ths a Citizen" and shows
      Dean whipping handcuffed people; and in which Larry
      Sinclair, the Minnesota man who took to YouTube to
      allege that Barack Obama had oral sex with him in the
      back of a limousine in 1999, is one of the belles of
      the ball.

      "They almost made me cry this morning when they told
      me to get out of there," the blond Sinclair--who's
      looking roly-poly and giddy in a blue-and-white
      striped shirt with a pack of Marlboros protruding from
      the breast pocket--says, referring to several nervous
      protest organizers who tried to evict him when he
      first showed up at the rally site early this morning
      carrying a box of "Obama's DIRTY LITTLE SECRETS:
      Murder, Drugs, Gay Sex" fliers. Since then, though, he
      goes on, "I have been totally surprised by the
      reception I have received!"

      He's not kidding. Clusters of people in Hillary shirts
      ask to take their photo with him, one woman covered in
      Clinton buttons introduces him to Greta Van Susteren,
      and he estimates he has handed out 500 fliers. "You
      could improve your credibility if you downplayed the
      gay sex and focused on the drugs," sagely advises one
      Hillary supporter with auburn hair and elegant makeup.
      But in this universe, Sinclair's credibility doesn't
      seem to be suffering too much. In fact, he's treated
      nearly as well as he might be at a meeting of the Vast
      Right-wing Conspiracy. In the thirty minutes I stand
      with him, only one woman expresses disgust at his
      fliers and his willingness to chattily discourse on
      whether Obama is "good in bed."

      Earlier, he claims, he even got to take a picture with
      Charlie Rangel. "I love him!" Sinclair chirps, though,
      it must be said, not as much as he loves Lanny Davis.

      Has it come to this? We tend to assume the Hillary
      camp's hot rhetoric--that Obama's less ready than
      McCain to be commander-in-chief, that the DNC in
      Florida is like Mugabe in Zimbabwe--is studied,
      purposeful, that they can't really believe it. That
      may be true at the Lanny Davis level, but by the time
      it trickles down to Hillary's most grassroots
      supporters, it becomes deadly serious.

      Of the eight Hillary supporters I quiz at the protest
      (six of them women), only one says she'd even consider
      voting for Obama in the fall. "It's sad. I'm a
      lifelong Democrat and the party's been taken over by
      these Obama people who say they want 'change,'" gripes
      Linda of Horseheads, New York, outside the Marriott as
      a honking car decorated with a painting of Hillary, a
      glued-on bust of Cleopatra, and a tampon drives by.
      Linda, she says, has already gone to the state Board
      of Elections to learn how to write Hillary's name in
      in November. "So much has been stolen from her."

      Justine, a self-described "diehard Democrat" from
      Greensboro, North Carolina, objects to the write-in
      idea. "It's gonna help Barack if you don't vote
      against him," she says. She and her friends got
      Sinclair to autograph their copies of the "Murder,
      Drugs, Gay Sex" flier. One of those friends, Jeannie,
      is living proof that, at least for some people, the
      long primary has done its damage. "When [Obama] first
      came out, we just thought he was too young," she
      explains. "But now I don't think he's qualified at
      all."

      It's easy to sink into despair here. Standing and
      watching all these Democrats chat up Sinclair--who's
      retained Montgomery Blair Sibley as his lawyer and
      says the Republican National Committee has also been
      in touch with him--makes me want to fall to my knees,
      rend my garments, and start insanely screaming, "Wake
      up! Wake up! You'll hate a President John McCain!" But
      the rhetoric from the top has imparted its poison
      below, and the bitterest criticisms of Obama gain
      traction as they circulate through the
      virulently-pro-Hillary echo chamber. "Would you rather
      have a president who had an affair [Bill Clinton] or
      one who was a murderer [Obama]?" Jeannie, the
      Greensboro Democrat, asks a fellow in a floppy Tilley
      hat and Hillary buttons. "That's a good point," he
      replies.

      Following instructions from Obama HQ, almost no Obama
      supporters have shown up to protest, amplifying the
      impression of the alternate Hillary universe. But
      around the edges, a few small signs of the other
      universe peek through, the one in which Barack Obama
      leads and most Democrats don't suspect him of multiple
      felonies. Inside the Marriott's gift shop, the sales
      clerk tells me that Democratic bumper stickers have
      been selling like crazy today. "Mostly Hillary?" I
      ask.

      "Actually, mostly Obama," she giggles.

      --Eve Fairbanks
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